Diplomatic Exercise



Her first undergraduate class had just ended and Amanda was congratulating herself on the outcome. A packed lecture hall, lots of intelligent questions… it was going to be a good semester here. She was speaking to a few of the students when suddenly, she saw uniforms out of the corner of her eye and she straightened, concerned.

She caught her breath as two guards from the Vulcan embassy and two Starfleet security guards approached her, armed and solemn. Fear gripped her. Something's happened to Sarek! Her eyes widened and her heart hammered as they drew close. No...

"Dr. Grayson?" one of the Starfleet officers asked.

"Yes?" Amanda braced herself, preparing for the worst.

"We are here to escort you back to the embassy, when you are ready."

What?! Amanda just gaped at the four for a moment as her fear was upended by incredulousness. Which was quickly supplemented by anger. What the –? Composing herself, she coolly asked, "Is there some issue I should be aware of?"

One of the Starfleet officers, a petite but serious-looking blonde woman, responded. "No, ma'am. Starfleet is cooperating with a request from Vulcan that you be provided with this daily detail."

Oh for the love of Pete, Amanda thought as she smiled thinly at the officer in acknowledgement. I can't believe him. As she gathered up her things from the podium, she was further annoyed to note that her students had backed off nervously, not sure what to make of the armed guards around their professor.

She sighed, and sought to reassure them. "No worries here, Students. This is all just… routine," she told them, smiling as if nothing were out of the ordinary. "If you have more questions before next class I'll be glad to answer them. Just comm me or come to my office hours." Right now she needed to find a certain someone and give him a piece of her mind.

When they reached the embassy Amanda politely thanked her escort before she went to track down Sarek. She might have been able to minimize the presence of the Vulcan guards in and around her classrooms, but now that Starfleet was involved, it wasn't going to be so simple. She was worried their appearance might have put off some of her students, and she knew she would hear about this – and not in a good way – at the next faculty meeting. What a great first impression to make, she thought darkly.

Sev looked up at her approach, alerted by the rapid click-click of her irritated footsteps. He raised a brow uncertainly. Amanda took a breath. "Sev, I need to speak with Sarek."

"He is preparing for a council session in his office with Soran, T'Sai…" Sev began, but before he could get another word out Amanda marched through the door. Sev stood, not sure whether he should retrieve the ambassador's unannounced visitor or not.

Sarek and Soran looked up at her abrupt entrance.

"You sent a security detail to my classroom to escort me back here," she began without preamble, her voice accusatory.

"Yes," Sarek replied, wondering why she was stating the obvious.

"Sarek, that's enough!" Amanda fumed. "This is too much. I'm not an ambassador. I can get myself to and from my work without needing embassy and Starfleet – Starfleet! – guards. Now you're disrupting my work environment and my students – call them off, now!"

Soran uneasily exchanged glances with Sev, who was standing awkwardly in the doorway. The aide began to rise to leave, but Sarek stopped him with a raised hand as he calmly replied to his agitated Human wife.

"My wife, the security is necessary because you are an ambassador's wife. It is logical. Further—"

She interrupted him, her eyes flashing. "Sarek, you didn't even tell me! When they arrived unexpectedly like that I thought something had happened to you! How would you like it if I sent a bunch of officers into Council during one of your sessions, unannounced? What would you think?"

Sarek realized that this was not going to be resolved easily. Seeking to deflect the matter until they could talk privately, he stood and crossed to his wife, raising his paired fingers.

"My wife, let us discuss this—" His brows flew up as she interrupted him again.

Fed up and not in the mood to be told her anger was illogical, Amanda cut him off, avoiding his touch. "Oh, no," she said with an emphatic shake of her head. "I am not speaking to you any more about this or anything else until I hear an apology. After I've cooled off. Right now, I have… work to do." Turning on her heel, she curtly murmured, "Excuse me, Soran, Sev," before making her escape. She did need some time to cool off.

In the awkward silence spawned by her departure, Sev discreetly melted away, leaving Sarek staring at the doorway. Feeling his friend's eyes upon him, he turned toward him. "Soran, I regret that you were witness to such an emotional display." He paused uncomfortably. "It appears that I… lack some skill in diffusing these situations."

"All is silent," Soran reassured him. "If I may be of assistance…" he continued, and before Sarek could shake his head in the negative, the aide was already tapping on his PADD.

His friend momentarily occupied, Sarek reflected. It was possible he had erred in not informing his wife of his actions ahead of time. However, the means to rectify this situation now was not obvious. If there were such a conflict between Vulcan spouses, the correct course of action would be to discuss the problem logically and reach an agreement. If one had made an error, it would be acknowledged then and the matter resolved. This method was not currently available to him, however, as Amanda was refusing to speak to him. Reluctantly, he concluded that he would have to find a Human method of making amends with his wife.

Soran spoke up. "S'haile, this may be useful," he said, holding up his PADD.

Sarek read aloud over his aide's shoulder, "'Relationship troubles: what to do when she's not speaking to you'?" He was puzzled. "Soran, how did you find a reference such as this?"

Soran hesitated just a moment before plunging ahead, hoping the kevet dutar would not find his actions overreaching. "Following your bonding to T'Sai Amanda, I … conducted some research. I thought such information would perhaps be… useful," he allowed. "There is a great deal of this 'relationship advice,' as it is called, available for both Human males and females." He continued in a softer tone, aware that his friend was unsettled, "Apparently, the skills to handle these situations are by no means universal, even among Humans themselves."

Sarek relaxed a little and quirked a brow. "Indeed; it would seem so." Then, for he could not contain his curiosity, he asked, "Do you see anything that might be relevant?"

The two pored over Soran's PADD for several minutes. A good deal of what was discussed was incomprehensible to the pair of Vulcans, and Sarek privately hoped that he would never personally encounter many of the situations described. Finally, Soran found a section that seemed to address remedies for Sarek's problem.

"'Send flowers,'" he read. Sarek tilted his head. Soran continued, "'A bouquet of roses or her favorite flower is often the perfect way to say you're sorry.'"

Sarek thought back to the large bunch of cut roses another Human male had once sent to Amanda. Had that male been intending to apologize for something? It obviously failed to work in his favor, he thought, only the slightest bit smugly. In his case, however, simply making such an offering seemed a very imprecise means of communication– how would she know exactly what he was 'apologizing' for? Perhaps I should have informed her of it, but there is nothing wrong with the security detail itself. Besides, he found cut and dying vegetation rather unappealing.

"Flowers are illogical," he declared.

Soran continued reading. "'Whether you're wrong or not, apologize. Say you're sorry and then tell her how much you love her.'" Both Vulcans avoided each other's gaze. "Perhaps the option of flowers is less problematic, S'haile," Soran offered.

Sarek considered. Indeed, it was not logical to apologize when one was not in error. The Vulcan way seemed a superior course of action after all. She might not want to speak with him, but he would overcome her objections. He was an accomplished diplomat, after all.

Sarek stood and addressed his friend. "Reviewing this research has been… interesting, Soran. I believe our preparations for the council session are nearly complete. Therefore, you will excuse me." The ambassador departed, resolute.

Alone now in the office, Soran whispered into the air, "'Nufau au sochya – yi dungi ma tu sochya, k'war'ma'khon t'nash-veh... (Offer them peace, and you will have peace,' my brother-by-choice)…"

Sarek found Amanda in her former suite, recently repurposed into a home office. He buzzed for entrance, and was surprised to hear her speak before she even opened the door.

"I don't want to talk yet, Sarek."

Perhaps she is more emotional about this than even I had assumed. "I wish to speak with you, Aduna," he said through the door.

"Well, I don't."

"Amanda, please open the door so we may at least agree on a time to speak."

There was a long pause, and then Amanda opened the door only far enough to peek out at him in annoyance.

Sarek forged ahead. "Perhaps at end-meal we could—"

She shook her head. "I've ordered food in. I've got a lot of work," she said shortly.

"Then before retiring—"

"In fact, I may be working all night."

Sarek was alarmed at this. She will not be returning to our quarters tonight? His strategy of logically explaining his position before making any concessions required immediate adjustment.

"Aduna," he began slowly, "I… regret… not informing you adequately of my plans." This is rather difficult, he thought, but continued. "I cherish thee, Amanda."

Amanda's eyes softened, and she slid the door open slightly wider. "I love you, Sarek. Those guards scared me this afternoon. I was afraid for you, and then to find out it was all just a…" she bit back several derogatory adjectives from the tip of her tongue, "a security escort, of all things…" she trailed off, and Sarek could see the distress in her eyes.

"I regret that my actions distressed you, Aduna," Sarek apologized a second time. "I would like the opportunity to make amends," he said quietly.

"That's easy: get rid of the guards," she told him flatly.

"I cannot do that, my wife. We have seen that even reasonably vigilant security measures can easily be overcome on Terra. I would be… willing, however, to discuss ways to make them less intrusive for you. It is my duty to keep you safe," he concluded, his voice growing ever so slightly huskier.

"Maybe after end meal, Sarek," Amanda reluctantly allowed.

"Perhaps we should have end meal now," he suggested, reaching paired fingers through the door to gently stroke her cheek.

At this moment, Soran happened to cross the adjoining hallway. Seeing the ambassador, head bent and fingers extended, murmuring quietly to his wife through the partially open door, the chief of staff reminded himself, all is silent, and he continued on his way.

Conflicting thoughts warred in Amanda's head. She didn't want to feel like a prisoner on her own world simply to assuage Sarek's fears. That's what his concerns were, as ironic as that seemed. He was fearless toward anything that he might face himself, she knew, but where she was concerned it was another story entirely. Still, she refused to have her life dictated by fear – his, hers or anyone else's.

On the other hand, her cheek warmed by his touch, she could sense his powerful emotions for her, some of which she understood well and some of which were frankly alien. She reconsidered. Perhaps he is driven by needs in this that I don't fully comprehend. Maybe we can compromise on this, too.

She looked up at him. "I'm not really hungry…"

"Then it is logical that we continue our discussion." He continued stroking her cheek. "May I come in?"

Amanda's mouth curved in a lopsided grin. She knew where this was going. "Sarek, if I let you in, we won't get to that discussion. Tell me how you're going to keep those guards out of sight and out of mind for me."

Sarek's voice pitched lower, and she felt a different type of warmth coursing through his fingers. "You should allow me in, my wife. My proposed approach may require a… demonstration…"

Amanda bit her lip, as if considering.

His eyes lit with fire then and she did not object when he reached inside to the control, sliding the door open enough for him to enter, and then closing it again behind him.

The next day, guards discreetly at a distance, Amanda arrived at Berkeley to find the entrance to her office there temporarily blocked by at least a dozen large, blooming, potted rose bushes.

Years later, staff members would recount that the rose garden on the embassy's grounds originated as a "Vulcan-Terran diplomatic exercise."